Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) is set to roll out a bulk prepaid smart water meters installation programme for all local authorities, farmers and other consumers to enforce payment by those who owe it over $140 million.
Addressing a Press conference in Harare yesterday, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri–Kashiri said Government made the policy decision at the last Cabinet meeting.
Zinwa has already installed bulk prepaid meters for Beitbridge and Gwanda municipalities.
“Cabinet at its last sitting deliberated and gave guidance on the matter.
“I wish to state that Government has made a policy decision that Zinwa installs prepaid meters to all its waters. Both local authorities and residents will need to use what they can afford and to that end, a national roll-out of pre-paid meters is in progress,” she said.
“Of course Government is aware of the need to provide safety nets for socially disadvantaged, the vulnerable and the need to give some quantity of water for primary use since water is a basic human right.”
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said in the last few weeks Government noted with concern the continued mudslinging between Zinwa and Gwanda over the water supply situation in the town playing out in the public domain, with residents of the town bearing the brunt.
She said Zinwa had not disconnected water supplies to Gwanda Municipality but had installed a pre-paid bulk water meter in an effort to recover and curb the local authority’s ballooning debt.
Gwanda owes Zinwa over $10 million.
“Therefore in an effort to break the impasse between Zinwa and Gwanda, I am directing in the short term that Zinwa rations rather than cut off water supplies to ensure that water is available almost all the time, especially to critical institutions such as provincial hospital, prison and other essential services,” she said.
“That Zinwa installs meters for all its consumers so that payments are for actual and not estimated consumption. That until further notice, the temporary agreement between Zinwa and council, where 30 percent of all payments being made to council by Zinwa, which was going towards settling the legacy debt be set aside, with all payments being made going to current consumption.”
She said water was availed to Gwanda on Sunday.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri reiterated that service delivery could only be guaranteed when users pay for the service they receive from utilities.
“This is the spirit of ‘user pays principle’.
“Without paying for water, there will be no resources for procurement of water treatment chemicals, electricity to pump the water as well as critical spares needed to maintain the water supply infrastructure.”